Career Switch Myths Debunked By Singaporean Millennials
You’ve spent years in a single role, mastering the necessary skills to thrive. And as you find yourself cruising through most workdays, you’re hit with an epiphany.
What if you were in an entirely different job doing completely different things?
The thought of entertaining such a radical notion is daunting, not to mention the litany of concerns you’d have about starting anew.
But some Singaporeans had the gumption to brave the odds, and they’re here to share how career-switching myths are, as the name suggests, myths.
Here’s what six Singaporeans have to say about their worries surrounding their first career switch and how it worked out for them.
1. Passion won’t pay your bills & put food on the table
One of the most common myths society has about career-switching is that you’ll forgo stability in the name of pursuing what you want.
Tania Mae, in her 30s, was plagued by these so-called ‘warnings’ when she felt strongly about quitting her job at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to work in the esports industry.
However, the Geography major said she didn’t listen to what people were saying because she knew in her bones that esports was her passion.
“I was afraid, of course,” Tania confessed. “When I handed in my resignation letter, I was still held back by doubt.”
“I couldn’t shake the thought that I was giving up a good salary. On top of that, I was leaving without a job offer.” Yes, you heard that right — she had no plan B.
Tania ended up going for three years without a full-time job. She went freelance and even applied for internships to get by. Until one day, Lady Luck smiled upon her, and she landed a position as the editor of an esports media firm.
Since then, she’s been living the dream of pursuing her passion as a career. Just earlier this year, she was sent to Busan, Korea, to cover the League of Legends MSI 2022 tournament.
Always follow your gut, said Tania. “There may be fear and doubts, but beyond that, listen to what your gut tells you. If it’s time to move, it’s time to move.”
2. Not being able to perform well in a completely new job scope
Before becoming a firefighter with the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), Marissa Eliza, 28, worked for several years in a management role at a medium-sized enterprise.
The drastic shift from a comfortable office environment to one where she had to risk her life to save others was a concern for her loved ones.
She was also unsure if she would be competent enough to be a firefighter as the job scope was more physically demanding and dangerous — a 180-degree change from her previous role.
“I struggled initially with the competency part, but I had colleagues and mentors to help me along the way,” she said, adding that she had no regrets about chasing after her childhood dream.
Asked if she had advice for others who might be in the same boat, Marissa said it’s best to approach career-switching strategically and objectively by considering these questions:
Can I still support myself and my loved ones if things don’t work out with this career?
Have I done enough homework and found sufficient information about the job?
What do you think are some things in the new position that you may not enjoy? Will you be able to tolerate them?
“Once you’ve considered these areas, and your answer is yes to all three questions, just take the leap of faith and make the switch,” she said. “Because you’ve fully prepared yourself for the worst-case scenario, things can only get better from there.”
3. Tough to negotiate for a higher salary with different job experiences
Despite being just 30, Darius Ng has worn many hats in various sectors.
First, he was in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF). He then went on to become an air steward with Singapore Airlines and then a financial adviser. Now, he’s an account servicing executive.
“My experiences with the Air Force and financial services were considered niche, so it was difficult to negotiate for higher pay at first,” Ng admitted.
“But it doesn’t mean that you’ll be stuck forever,” he continued. “Work hard and work smart because once you know how to get noticed in your new job, the progression you seek will come eventually.”
4. Loss of stable income when switching to being self-employed
Tired of the typical 9-to-6 lifestyle, Chong Vin Nee, 29, upped and left her corporate job to be self-employed.
“I like the flexibility, and I’m willing to trade the rigidity of job security for the ability to make plans at my own time and pace,” she said.
At first, the thought of suffering a significant loss in income at the start was her biggest concern. But Chong, now a private tutor, said it depends on the job you’re switching to.
“Since I switched to something that allows me to choose my own hours, technically, you can earn way more by working more,” she said while disclaiming that she has to be financially disciplined and save diligently.
Chong also opined that a career switch doesn’t necessarily mean a pay increase or loss.
“It depends on your gamble. Are you taking a temporary pay cut in an industry where you’ll eventually earn more?”
“Or is it something like mine where you’re switching directly to something that can pay more?” There are lots of factors to consider, she stressed.
5. Risky to quit a job less than a year into it
The idea to switch careers might come as soon as the first month you’ve started a new job, only to realise that working in a certain industry was a bad idea.
Take Rachel Ong, for example. The 31-year-old senior account manager decided to jump from a media publishing company to a creative agency.
She started as a writer, but eventually found that managing client campaigns was her calling.
“I only stayed three months, and it was the shortest time I’ve spent at a full-time job. But the 1.5-hour daily commute was draining, and there weren’t any benefits viable enough to keep me on.
“I also felt that the work didn’t give me space to grow and was very repetitive day in and day out. Coupled with the fact that I couldn’t really connect with my colleagues, I decided to leave when my probation was due to avoid the two-month notice period,” she said.
She successfully paved another path in a creative agency after that. Ong said that although being the bridge between clients and her team entailed a steep learning curve, the benefits were better, and she could form meaningful relationships with her co-workers.
“People sometimes find it risky to quit a job less than a year into it, but I think you have to listen to your instincts sometimes.
“If you feel in your heart something is wrong for you, you shouldn’t tough it out just because it might ‘look better’ on your resume. It could just be a waste of time and energy,” she said.
6. Switching careers means you’re a ‘strawberry’
‘Aisyah Osman, 29, who worked as a tour assistant for nearly two years, wanted something more in life when she realised her progression was limited.
Tourism was also not what she had in mind as a long-term career.
“I only went into tourism at first because it was the only offer I got. But my part-time teaching gigs made me realise that I love working with kids,” she said.
Now a kindergarten teacher, ‘Aisyah is no stranger to career-switching myths as the shift in industries was drastic. She remembered she was told that switching careers gave the impression that she did not have the perseverance to grind harder and stay longer with her current job – traits associated with the ‘strawberry generation’.
“To be honest, I don’t think it means you’re fickle or you can’t persevere. It means that you’re searching for a job that makes it worthwhile and contributes to your quality of life.
“Once you’ve achieved that, you can then contribute to people around you, your loved ones, and the community in a much better way,” she said.
Browse over 2,200 immediate vacancies at e2i Virtual Career Fair till 31 Dec
If reading the anecdotes above has inspired you to make a change for yourself, there are better ways to kickstart the job search process, such as career coaching and learning how to improve your CV, than diving into applications blindly.
The e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) Virtual Career Fair is happening now till 31 Dec. Over 2,200 immediate vacancies are available from employers across F&B, retail, and hospitality Sectors, such as Uniqlo, Japan Home, DFI Retail Group, and Paris Baguette.
For the next few weeks, the fair will run online 24/7, where you can chat with prospective employers online at a scheduled date, and attend virtual interviews from the comfort of your home.
Once you’ve sat through the interview, you can keep track of your interview status online too. No more going through weeks of waiting around aimlessly for a response.
Get matched with interviewers from your future dream job here.
Making the career switch can pay off when you’re well-prepared
Life has many pathways for those who have the courage to fight for more.
There’s no shame in sticking to what you know and appreciating the stability of a long-term job. Loyalty does have its rewards.
But to those who are yearning to broaden their horizons, we hope these stories will inspire you to spark change in your life.
And before you do, make sure you’ve done your homework.
This post was brought to you in collaboration with e2i.
Featured image courtesy of Darius Ng, Marissa Eliza, and Tania Mae.